John Carter (PG-13)
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Posted: Mon Mar 5 2012
Me Tarzan; you John. Edgar Rice Burroughs is best known as the creator of the vine-swinging, Jane-loving jungle man; but he also penned a series of novels about Virginian Civil War veteran John Carter and his adventures on Mars (a locale the author rechristened Barsoom). A number of people, from Looney Tunes animator Bob Clampett to Ain’t It Cool News head geek Harry Knowles, have taken a crack at adapting these otherworldly stories for the big screen. Yet Disney’s $250-million, postconverted 3-D superproduction—based primarily on the first Barsoom book, A Princess of Mars—is the first to come to fruition.
Would that the delays and expense were worth it. But aside from a few inspired vistas and alien life-forms (the Road Runner–fast red planet dog Woola is sure to sell a bazillion action figures), John Carter is as deadly dull as its basso-voiced, beefcake slab of a star, Taylor Kitsch. The hilariously awful opening narration—a CliffsNotes gloss over Burroughs’s complex alterna-mythology about Zodangans, Heliumites, Tharks and Therns—promises a car-wreck classic on the order of David Lynch’s thrillingly Dadaist Dune. Instead, the film quickly morphs into a CGI-heavy blockbuster-by-committee, complete with incoherent battle sequences, good actors (Dafoe, Morton) swallowed whole by digital prosthetics and bad actors (Collins, as scantily clad warrior princess Dejah Thoris) who clearly don’t believe a word they’re saying. You’d think that Pixar director Andrew Stanton, here making his live-action debut, sold his soul for the success of WALL-E—and now the devil’s come around to collect.
Follow Keith Uhlich on Twitter: @keithuhlich
Author: Keith Uhlich
Fri Mar 9, 2012
Cast and crew
Polly Walker, Mark Strong, Daryl Sabara, Willem Dafoe, James Purefoy, Dominic West, Samantha Morton, Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Ciarán Hinds, Thomas Haden Church